Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Newsflash: Authorities don't arrest a protester

CNN's Rick Sanchez may have got his knickers in a bunch over armed (but peaceful) protesters outside a venue where President Barack Obama was giving a speech to veterans, but Secret Service and local law enforcement acted with appropriate restraint, leaving the demonstrators alone to make their point. Their respect for the protesters' rights to free speech and to bear arms deserve notice -- as does the hysterical wailing from some quarters about armed dissidents being allowed too near the king president.

Over at Crooks and Liars, Heather complains, "I think it is completely irresponsible and if the gun laws in Arizona allow this, there's something wrong with their laws."

And at Democratic Underground, Joanne98 moans, "If police--and the Secret Service--allow guns at political events, then members of the public have to fear for their safety and their very lives."

And, as mentioned above, CNN's Rick Sanchez reported the protest as if riots had broken out in the streets and the Secret Service had fled the scene.

Instead, though, federal and loacal law-enforcement officials did what they do all too rarely: they respected the rights of peaceful individuals to state their case, even if that case included legally carrying arms. After all, Arizona is an open carry state -- you need a permit to carry a firearm concealed, but not to have it in plain sight.

Officials are not always this restrained. Last week, a man was arrested in Hagerstown, Maryland, and turned over to the Secret Service after brandishing a sign saying "Death to Obama." The president was nowhere near the scene. In 2004, Secret Service agents questioned a high school student about his anti-war drawings -- one of which depicted the head of then-President George W. Bush on a stick. Under the former president, it became increasingly common for law-enforcement to herd political protesters into "free speech zones," and to arrest anybody who strayed from behind the fence and bothered elected officials with actual dissent.

From a relatively minor office that was originally intended to defer to Congress, the presidency has become a quasi-monarchical position expected to evoke instant reverence among the masses. Voicing disagreement within earshot of the president is now treated almost as an act of blasphemy. As a result, writes Gene Healy, author of the Cult of the Presidency:

Whatever social power celebrities have over those that surround them—and it’s considerable—the environment in which the president exists is even more unnatural. Rock stars and movie idols can order their functionaries around and buy their own planes, but they can’t send the Seventh Fleet through the Taiwan Strait or bomb Syria. And the stakes are much smaller where Russell Crowe, Lindsay Lohan, or Tom Cruise is concerned. If fame and wealth go to a celebrity’s head, he ends up jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch, no harm done to the wider world. If the president loses his grip on things, there’s rather more at stake…

So it's encouraging that officials are not only backing off the authoritarian "free speech zones" that prevailed so recently, but are even recognizing protesters' right to go armed.

And if a few officials and their lackeys feel unease at the sight of guns in the hands of the great unwashed, well, as the tag line for the movie V for Vendetta put it, "People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people."



Anonymous The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit said...

From a relatively minor office that was originally intended to defer to Congress, the presidency has become a quasi-monarchical position expected to evoke instant reverence among the masses.

Hamilton: 1
Jefferson: 0

August 20, 2009 7:49 AM  
Anonymous the Hunter said...

Now, Lawhobbit ol' buddy, that ain't hardly fair. You're not scoring events since. Things ain't going ALL the Hamiltonian's way. (grin) The good guys do win a round now and again, and I think our batting record has even been improving.

August 21, 2009 1:56 PM  
Blogger PlanetaryJim said...

I don't have much use for Ken Royce, but he writes well. In his book Molon Labe he proposes a sales tax rebate for anyone standing at the cash register with a rifle over his shoulder or a pistol on his belt. Obviously, the liberal socialists would wet themselves before showing up at a store armed. Whereas the store owner is glad to ring "no tax" on the sale and not have to report the transaction to the state.

And the presence of gun toting individuals entering shops in Jackson Hole ought to dramatically reduce the number of asshole liberal socialists living there.

Hoplophobia is one of those crimes against nature. It is stupid, and nature always punishes stupidity with death. Generally, there is no appeal and sentence is carried out promptly.

August 21, 2009 2:12 PM  

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